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Erin

Rita's West Indian Carryout - Caribbean Carryout on Georgia Avenue and Morton Street in East Columbia Heights, Park View - Closed

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Just had a wonderful goat roti yesterday at the DC outpost of Rita's West Indian Carryout on Georgia Avenue (I hear the original is in Tortola, BVI). Roti, curried potato, pepper sauce and goat curry.... aaaah!

I also tried a drink called mauby (described to me as Trinidadian iced tea), which tasted somewhat like I imagine a cinnamon RedHot would if it was made into a cold drink; stimulating yet refreshing. According to my Trinidadian friend, mauby is a plant native to the West Indies that is said to be beneficial to the circulation.

The 'Carryout' in the name is somewhat misleading; there is a seating area in a room up a few steps from where you order and pay. Quite plain (upon entering I had a flashback to Zorba's upstairs room from many years ago), but very serviceable and immaculate.

(Since we drove by the Islander on the way to Rita's, I asked my friend how the two compare. She said that the Islander serves Americanized versions of Caribbean food, but Rita's is the real thing.)

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This little hole in the wall offers solid, if sullenly served, food from the West Indies--a region uncommon in DC's more popular restaurant neighborhoods. A veggie roti with chickpeas (ordered not spicy because I'm a wuss) was a gutbomb, easily a couple of pounds of food that provided me two+ meals. The wrapping itself was buttery and thin enough to barely able to contain its contents, which had a subtle heat that was nice but not too much for my wussy tastebuds. It also had a surprising layering of flavors; I usually order a bunch of small things because I get bored easily, but I didn't get bored at all with this guy because every mouthful tasted different than the last. The beef pie wasn't so successful, but still just dandy. The filling was miserly, but the sweet, dense flakiness of the pastry ended up playing really nicely off of the spiced meat, which was almost the consistency of paste (not in a bad way). (I recognize that "dense flakiness" is an oxymoron, but there it is.) I'm on the fence about it, but aside from the fact that it probably contained more calories than I'd need to power me for a full day, I kind of liked it. It's one of those things I can't explain--I didn't think the first bites were great, so I put it down for a while, but kept going back for bites again and again.

You can also get a platter of choices from the hot table, which includes dirty rice, fried fish, shrimp stew, and other yummies. I've stuck with the rice and veggie options, which are, again, solid.

Roti and meat pie=$7

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I hate to post this, but Baby Rita Houghton, "the" Rita herself, passed away on June 22, 2013.

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As early as Sep, 2012, popville.com mentioned that Rita's was for sale, but would remain open until a buyer was found. However, in Apr, 2014, they sadly announced that the owner had passed away (couple with my post directly above, this is tragic misfortune - my thoughts are with the owners and their families), and that the restaurant had closed. Finally, in May, 2014, there was this:

"Panamanian Restaruant, Essencias Panameí±as, Coming to Rita's Carryout Space at 3322 Georgia Ave, NW in May" (Thanks SF)

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